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Thursday, July 10, 2014

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Comedic couple to host the Doras

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Matt Baram and Naomi Snieckus

Comedy and life partners Matt Baram and Naomi Snieckus will co-host the 34th annual Dora Mavor Moore Awards this year.

Presented annually by the Toronto Alliance for the Performing Arts, the awards celebrate the city’s performing arts. This year’s ceremony features 13 new award categories, for a total to 48 Doras to be handed out.

Baram and Snieckus, who met six years ago while performing at Second City, were so witty and engaging on the red carpet at last year’s Doras that they were invited back this year.

Baram humbly attributes the couple’s invitation to co-host this year’s show, called “Moore to More,” to the fact that they were able to pronounce all the names. Let’s hope this year’s names of nominees are as easy to enunciate.

“Hosting an awards show is about moving things through the evening,” he said. “People want to hear if they’ve won, or who has won, and to support and celebrate Canadian theatre, opera and dance. We are going to keep it clean, and we are going to make it go fast. 

“We know each other so well that I think we can play off each other nicely.  We’re two brains. I don’t think they’ve had a real couple onstage and off, and I think if they can put up with a few squabbles here and there, I think we can get over our personal issues to celebrate the award show.”

Baram wants people to feel as if they are at a show as well as an awards ceremony. He said it’s “more show, less awards, even though there are more awards and less show.

“Award shows can be trying. You sit there all night and you may not win, and depending on how much importance you place on something like that, it can be a tough night,” he added.

“We just want to get people out of there before four in the morning. I want them to feel it just whizzed by and ‘now I can go back to the bar!’”

Edmonton-born, Toronto-based Baram has received a Canadian Comedy Award (CCA) for best male improviser. He co-created and stars in The Casting Room web series, for which he also got a CCA, as well as a 2013 Los Angeles Webfest award. 

As a member of the Second City comedy theatre in Toronto, Baram wrote and performed in six hit revues.  His television credits are numerous. Currently, he’s a regular on Seed on City television; has a lead on Punched Up, for the Comedy Network, and appears on CBC television’s The Next Comedy Legend.

Snieckus, whose list of entertainment accomplishments are equally as impressive as her partner’s, was nominated for a 2013 ACTRA Award for her regular series role in Mr. D. She’s a regular panellist on CBC television’s George Stroumboulopoulos’ show, Tonight.

Baram and Snieckus are the founding co-artistic directors of the National Theatre of the World, an award-winning improv company. Earlier this year, they took the company on tour to Berlin and Tel Aviv. 

Baram said he and Snieckus are perpetually engaged. “We don’t have time to get married. We’re always putting on shows, and we think of our wedding as another thing we have to produce.”

The comedic actor said in being Jewish, there is a certain cynicism and a sardonic humour passed down from generation to generation. His father and late mother were both very funny, he added. 

 Speaking about his father, Baram said: “My father just moved to Toronto at 80 years old. His humour could be very cutting, and if I wanted to keep any sort of sense of self-worth, I had to fight back and I had to fight back with humour. It was just our way of communicating. It’s not healthy, but certainly it is how we got by in this dysfunctional Jewish home.”

The Dora Awards will be held on June 24 at the Bluma Appel Theatre in the St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts. For tickets – a limited number are available for $65 – call the box office at 416-366-7723. For more information, visit www.tapa.ca.

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